For nearly three decades, viewers adored the on-screen camaraderie between Rita, portrayed by the talented Barbara Knox, and Mavis, brought to life by the ever-charming Thelma Barlow. Their mischievous double act on the cobbles earned them a special place in the hearts of Coronation Street fans.
The iconic duo, Rita and Mavis, were seen together in an emotional reunion that bought a smile to the faces of longstanding fans of the soap. Barbara Knox, the legendary 89-year-old actress who has portrayed Rita since the dawn of time (well, 1972, to be precise), was recently honoured at the RHS Flower Show, where a beautiful rose was named after her, commemorating her upcoming 90th birthday. And guess who made a surprise appearance to celebrate this momentous occasion? Thelma Barlow, the 94-year-old superstar who played Mavis from 1971 to 1997!
The duo’s double act on the cobbles has been etched into the hearts of fans for nearly three decades, and witnessing them together again was a welcome blast from the past. The whole heartwarming reunion was captured on camera, and we can hardly wait for the release of the ITV documentary later this year to witness the magic unfold again.
As they met, there were tears, laughter, and plenty of reminiscing about their days as inseparable on-screen besties. It’s no wonder Barbara described the moment as “magnificent” – an emotional rollercoaster that left us all reaching for the tissues.
Fans eagerly gathered around the Fryer’s Roses stand inside the magnificent Floral Marquee at the RHS Flower Show, often dubbed the “garden party of the north,” hoping for a chance to meet and snap photographs with the beloved soap legends. Stealing the spotlight, the Corrie duo engaged in delightful conversations with their devoted admirers.
The excitement reached its peak during a grand presentation orchestrated by officials from Blue Diamond Garden Centres. The centrepiece of the momentous occasion was the introduction of a brand new rose named “Gracious Lady” – a beautiful floral tribute crafted in honour of the one and only Barbara. The joyous event was a heartwarming gesture to celebrate the forthcoming 90th birthday of the remarkable actress, whose presence has graced our screens as Rita for decades.
Barbara, the charming veteran actress with the youthful glow, couldn’t contain her excitement as she was reunited with her long-time pal, Thelma. She revealed, “She was the best partner I could ever have had. We went everywhere together and were great friends. We really were good friends as well as acting together so well. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and thank God she looks so well.” Awww, how sweet!
For a remarkable 26-year run, Barlow shone on the series, making her mark in nearly 2,000 episodes until her departure coincided with the exit of her on-screen husband Derek. The poignant final episode, aired on 10 October 1997, saw Mavis bidding farewell to the cobbles as she embarked on a new chapter in the scenic Lake District.
When asked about the possibility of Mavis making a comeback, Barbara’s eyes sparkled with enthusiasm, exclaiming, “I would love Mavis back, like a shot!” Can you imagine the sparks that would fly if these two fiery characters were to reunite on the cobbles once more? Bring it on!
And if you’re wondering about the secret to Barbara’s youthful looks and radiant charm, she’s got some sage advice: work, work, work! Yep, that’s right, this amazing lady believes that staying active and continuing to work is the key to staying young at heart. “I always recommend work, keep on working, it keeps you young,” she says with a wink. Forget retirement – let’s all keep busy and feel forever young!
Of course, no chat with Barbara would be complete without discussing her flawless style, including her iconic red lipstick. The truth is out, folks: it’s all down to a brilliant make-up artist who keeps her looking fabulous. “It’s nothing magic, it’s just make-up. I have a brilliant make-up artist,” she reveals modestly. Well, whatever the secret is, it’s working wonders, Barbara!
As we eagerly await the release of the ITV documentary, we’re left with bated breath and high hopes for a Mavis comeback.